Introduction


There are a handful of companies that have been undoubtedly on the decline for the last several years. The business is cutthroat, whereby things can rapidly change in a heartbeat, so if there’s no substantial progress earned, it’s feasible that the end isn’t too far away. We can count a few notable companies in this particular situation, like HTC, who has struggled to make itself noticed. Or in the case of Motorola, after years of attempting to make a turn around by itself, eventually got gobbled up by Google, then subsequently Lenovo.

There’s also Microsoft, a company that has taken pride in its line of Windows devices, but has yet to make any sort of impact in the mobile space. You know who else in this situation? BlackBerry. Countless times already, they’ve tried to reinvent themselves for the modern times, but they, too, failed in generating any interest from consumers. Instead, it’s only the diehard BlackBerry faithfuls that have been able to keep them afloat for all this time.

Well, here we are at the tail end of 2015, and the future is still uncertain for BlackBerry. The company is still acclaimed for its unrivaled commitment to security, but rather than just build upon that with its existing platform, BlackBerry is now ready to try its luck in the Android business.

Say hello to the PRIV by BlackBerry – a charming portrait QWERTY slider that’s distinguishably BlackBerry, but powered by Android. Can this sacrilegious venture prove fruitful for the company, possibly becoming the catalyst in reestablishing their direction towards greener pastures?

The package contains:

  • BlackBerry PRIV
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Headphones
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety & warranty information
  • SIM removal tool

Design

In the world of portrait sliders, this is as good as it gets.

Phones with physical keyboards, they’ve become quite uncommon, as touch input has very well become the prime choice for today’s modern smartphones. At first glance, most people will easily mistake the PRIV as an all-touch device too, but this wouldn’t a true BlackBerry without its signature keyboard implementation.

In terms of design, the PRIV borrows heavily from the Passport, which isn’t a bad thing, seeing it exudes an industrial styling that’s attractive. Naturally, the PRIV is longer due to the larger screen, but what’s really impressive is that it achieves a profile of 9.4mm. For a phone that packs a keyboard, that’s not too shabby at all – while also sporting dimensions that are a smidgen more compact than the iPhone 6s Plus.

Attention to detail is evident with the PRIV’s design, made obvious by the materials they opted to employ. In particular, its aircraft-grade aluminum frame accents nicely against the black rubbery texture of its casing – where it sports this almost carbon-fiber-esque pattern. There’s no slippery feel to the phone thanks to this finish, but its construction isn’t as solid as that of the Passport considering there are two components that primarily make up the phone; the sliding front panel that accommodates the screen and the other for the keyboard.

The sliding mechanism is smooth and locks into position, while giving us those satisfying clicking sounds that are typical with portrait sliders. In the Android space, the PRIV’s design is undoubtedly original.

BlackBerry’s signature styling is plainly evident just looking around the PRIV. For one, it features the same volume control/mute button configuration around its right edge. The power button, however, is situated all by itself along the left edge. Yes, it’s one of the few phones that opts to place it there, but it’s merely a matter of getting acquainted before it becomes natural.

Interestingly, the speaker takes position directly below the display, in the small nook that’s there towards the bottom. While the micro dots extend throughout the entire width, because the speaker is mainly driving sound through the left-most area of the grill.

Rounding things out, there’s a multi-colored LED notification light above the display that can be adjusted for specific notifications – yet another rarity we don’t see in many phones.


BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv

Dimensions

5.79 x 3.04 x 0.37 inches

147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Dimensions

6.08 x 2.98 x 0.27 inches

154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm

Weight

5.40 oz (153 g)

LG V10

LG V10

Dimensions

6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches

159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Dimensions

6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches

153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm

Weight

6.31 oz (179 g)

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv

Dimensions

5.79 x 3.04 x 0.37 inches

147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+

Dimensions

6.08 x 2.98 x 0.27 inches

154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm

Weight

5.40 oz (153 g)

LG V10

LG V10

Dimensions

6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches

159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (2015)

Dimensions

6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches

153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm

Weight

6.31 oz (179 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Keyboard

Above all else, the keyboard merely offers convenience – a pleasant alternative to touch input.

Some of the best QWERTY smartphones come from BlackBerry’s portfolio, so it’s not shocking that the PRIV offers versatility in the form of its portrait slider keyboard. Sliding the screen upwards reveals the 4-row layout, which interestingly enough, follows very much to the styling of the Passport – as opposed to the more favorable, signature sculpted buttons in the BlackBerry Classic. The keyboard here is better than that of the Passport, due to the fact that many punctuations and numbers are accessible from this layout, whereas with the Passport, they could only be accessed via the touchscreen.

What makes it even better is the fact that additional buttons, such as shift, symbol, alt, and others, are here in the layout. Each press is accompanied with a satisfying level of tactility to ensure something has been pressed, so for those who really enjoy a physical response, it’s no doubt present here. Other features taken from the Passport include the keyboard being touch sensitive, enabling us to use it to precisely place the cursor in a passage of text, highlighting stuff, and also scrolling – all of them help to complement the experience.

As much as we’d like to say that we favor this method, we still find our pace considerably slower than touch-input via its on-screen keyboard. Nevertheless, the main selling point here is that we have the best of both worlds at our disposal.

Display

Very good AMOLED screen, with options to tweak color balance and saturation.

The PRIV comes at us with a pretty formidable screen that clearly dictates it as being an elite-oriented smartphone. Fashioned with a 5.43-inch 1440 x 2560 Plastic AMOLED screen shielded by Gorilla Glass 4, there’s certainly no shortage of crisp details with this one and its 541 ppi pixel density. What’s most peculiar, though, is the realization that they went with AMOLED technology, marking the first time we’re coming across a BlackBerry-made smartphone using the technology.

Beyond the specs, it’s the subtle sloped edges that make it unique, following in nearly the same manner as the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge/edge+. The curve is a very gentle one – nowhere as dramatic as the Galaxy S6 edge/edge+ curves.

So what about the screen’s quality, is it any good? Generally speaking, yes, it manages to produce some very favorable results. Color balance is quite natural on the whole. There's a bit of oversaturation, but it's not extreme. Interestingly, there are adjustments in the settingsfor display color balance and saturation, so it can be tweaked to the user's liking.

In the past, BlackBerry’s line of smartphones have always been known to be accompanied with the brightest of screens. Impressively enough, the BlackBerry Q5, Classic, and Passport take up the top 3 spots in our testing. Going with an AMOLED panel here for the PRIV, however, it only reaches the decent, but not great, 404 nits – far short of the blinding glows of those previous efforts. And with that, it doesn't come off as particularly easy to view outdoors.

Overall, the display here is no doubt the most ambitious to date with BlackBerry. While some of us will try to overlook the potential novelty of the dual-curved edges, the display is a good complement to the company’s footing into Android land.



FEATURED VIDEO

262 Comments

275. Austiniter

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 06, 2015

Blackberry PRIV is a dying dinosaur. I tried the phone out for 3 days and returned it. The battery life was HORRIBLE. I had to charge the phone twice in 8 hours. Also, when charging I thought the battery would catch the phone on fire as it got so hot I could barely hold it in my hand. Blackberry did NOTHING more than throw a fake security app on its phones to make consumers think its SECURE. It's actually no more securer than any other android phone. The price Blackberry is asking is ridiculous. The phone itself isn't worth more than $399.00 at most.

274. adrianeds

Posts: 14; Member since: Oct 18, 2014

The reviewer here shows his lack of knowledge on photography. Please go & check out DxOMark, as this phone has got a score of 82. Somewhat better than your opinion, & as they are the industry standard, I'll take their opinion over Phone Arena any day.

273. Rain017

Posts: 61; Member since: Jul 11, 2014

i just got my priv and been using it for a week now the update helps a lot i guess the camera is less noise and not as smudgy as before focusing is accurate now and a tad faster than before and the user interface is fluid i guess this review needs some update blackberry is doing their job really good when it comes to update

272. Fabricius

Posts: 10; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

A little bit harsh, I agree. I've read the "How we rate" page and I can't find a consistency with the reivew. Clearly, the reviewer didn't do his homework, like when he says it's the first time BlackBerry uses AMOLED technology. It has already been used on the Q10 and Z30. I would advise him to get his facts straight before doing a professiional review of a phone. To keep in mind he's been read by thousands of people

271. Felixkin

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

The keyboard may be beautiful but not useful. It's smaller than Nokia N97.

270. adrianeds

Posts: 14; Member since: Oct 18, 2014

The problem with phone manufacturers like the ones mentioned, HTC, Blackberry etc, they don't get a fair chance. Technology websites like Phone arena are like sheep you tend to follow one another, without any imagination. Once there is the slightest hint of a phone maker putting out a flagship that undersells you all go on the attack. It's beginning to start with Sony, you seem to want them to fail, & Blackberry gets the most criticism I would say. You seem intent in getting them to fail, HTC the same, & it's beginning with Sony if only slightly. Try & be more objective, & think for yourselves instead of following, this is the reason that people get the impression that the likes of Samsung & Apple pay to get fantastic reviews, then it seems that you are being bias. You have to remember that people come to your websites for genuine advice when they want to choose a new phone.

259. cdgoin

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 28, 2010

7.2 ??? REALLY..? Camera is as good as my Lumia, Speakers as good as my HTC M8, and screen as good any Samsung..? Looking at all the Androids out there and this was the only one I really liked..

228. kamrosh

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 21, 2013

Can anyone confirm if PRIV supports BIS or BES services or it will work only on data package just like other Androids. for me BIS is very important as I am frequent business traveller.

229. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

No BIS. That service has been disappearing since BB10, and I'd be surprised if you can still get it now. However, the Priv definitely supports BES.

230. kamrosh

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 21, 2013

Hey, yes i was using BIS since last 5 years on different devices and on my Z30 till 15 days ago and it was working absolutely awesome always. now I sold Z30 and waiting to buy this but my question keeps me bugging. If BIS doesn't works on this device then i would prefer a full specs android device or iOS device instead of Priv. I loved using Z30 and that was my main phone for 2 long years.

231. kamrosh

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 21, 2013

if it works on BES than i am sure it works on BIS also.

203. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

Way too heavy - 192 grams, heavier than the 6 inch Huawei Ascend Mate 7 at only 185 grams. Not for shirt pockets.

210. Bernoulli

Posts: 4364; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

If you have big boobs yeah don't recommend it (above c cup) but otherwise don't see why not.

197. Xx93_M_93xX

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 07, 2015

The mistake that all original companies did is following Apple Smartphone idea : Motorola , Nokia, Blackberry they found them self's in a gab of OS perfection ... I still fan of Nokia & Blackberry but, Blackberry should select new way of manufacturing phones in this situation why ? Because they dont have effectice cards to play right now to face the top profitable companies. The price of prive is for a high end phones and the prive is not a high end phone at least in some parts as well as the android in it is fresh so, still need development . its over priced The company has stopped the effective development since the q10 and then it started to think to trick people with passport what is the secret of the name : they cannot make phones with high end with nowadays dimensions so passport is good size lets call our phone Passport They designed smartphones but, still no apps no new ideas now they mix all what they have in open source OS which is works against the name of the phone wow ! Sorry but, I expected better ... I will buy Lumia instead :)

155. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

http://www.phonedog.com/2015/11/06/blackberry-priv-officially-confirmed-verizon Looks like Verizon will be picking up the Priv after all. Nice!

154. GeekMovement unregistered

I'd still get it just to support Blackberry. Seems like other reviews were excitedly claiming that the call quality was superb on this device and that the battery life was incredible. I guess it might depend, but I won't mind as long as there's a noticeable improvement from my Note 2. The security is what is attracting me the most to this phone. I think once marshmallow hits, the doze feature will greatly help this phone (although other phones as well) with battery life and with the security, gaining access to permission controls and whatnot. It also seems like Blackberry is really determined to keep pushing updates to this phone, so I'm guessing those other minor flaws will be addressed and fixed (if it's even an issue across all of the devices) very soon. Was actually surprised to see the rating at 7.2 lol I thought it was going to be at least an 8.7-9.0 haha maybe that shows how much I like this phone.

156. GeekMovement unregistered

and I thought the Priv had quick charging? I got confused when John talked about how long it took to charge the phone.

167. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

169. GeekMovement unregistered

That's what I thought - I wonder why his device took so long to charge.. or is that the normal charging speed for QC2.0?

172. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

I do t think the quick charge was enabled.

152. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2365; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

To me , it's just missing a finger print scanner, all in all it seems decent

147. TeyaIman unregistered

Did anyone expect otherwise??? Its a Blackberry device. Mediocre at best and super late to the game with okay specs... bLackberry really screwed up here!!!! This priv is going to be a flop and a sales disaster for Blackberry that is already a sinking ship.... This is what happens when you rush a product

150. roldefol

Posts: 4745; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

BlackBerry has been flailing for years now. BB10 will save us! No, the Q10 will save us! No, the Passport will! No, the Classic will! Screw it, let's try Android! The Priv will save us, we mean it this time!

151. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

You're trolling now. Or does this qualify as you not trolling due to your "definition" of trolling?

157. TeyaIman unregistered

Trolling? I guess it is trolling to you since you have seemingly unbreakable neverending love for Blackberry. I am speaking what othee websites have mentioned. The camera is not that good and is under devices like Moto X pure, and others, the speaker is only on left side, the performamce of the priv with 808 is worse then other 808 based devices, and the battery life does not last as long as it should. And the Priv will not sell much in a already super competitive, super saturated market, espcially with that high price point. Everything that i have said here is facts and true and are valid reasons, so instead of you just calling me a troll because im giving geniune, fair criticism of blackberry doesnt make me a troll. It is what it is, its blackberrys first gen Android device and it is not a grand slam in this already super mature, super saturated smartphone market, espcaially not with that high $ point of the Priv. A devicr like the 6P, moto x pure, g4 and others are better in almost every way. Better battery life, better cameras for sure, better performance, etc. Please do not talk on my posts/reply to me then because you have nothin to say but call others trolls. Should i be deluded and bend over for Blackberry and Chen and say they did a A+ job ? No i wont be like that. I am calling it how i and many others and what other tech websites see it booboo. You dont have to reply to my posts if you dont want to, your not forced too booboo. So leave me alone will you?

161. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

1) I was in no way, shape, or form addressing you. I understand that reading comprehension may not be your thing, so let me help you out: MY POST WAS IN RESPONSE TO COMMENT #150. Got it? I hope so. 2) You just created an account here 4 days ago, and you say I have "never ending love" for BlackBerry? Do I know you? I think this is your second or third account here, judging by that response. Busted. 3) Many sites have said the camera is actually quite good, and the placement of the speaker takes up the very bottom half of the phone, from end to end on the front. Other sites, including this one, have also said that the performance of the 808 processor in the Priv puts it ABOVE other devices running the 808 processor. Battery life, as reported by many sites, is excellent. The Priv is not intended to sell Apple or Samsung numbers, and guess what? That puts it right where every other smartphone is. The price is fair for what the Priv brings to the table, IMO. 4) So you're saying what you say is fact, based off of some site reviews, but many other site reviews contradict what you're saying. And the fact that you didn't even get the speaker placement correct lends to the possibility of you being a troll. 5) So who said that this device is supposed to be a "grand slam"? However, judging by many other reputable site reviews, the Priv isn't nearly as bad as you're making it out to be. And judging by the battery benchmarks from say, THIS SITE, the Priv battery sits just below the S6 Edge+. So for you to say that devices like the G4 and Moto X Pure have better battery life than the Priv, when the battery on the G4 was rated at 6 hours and change and the Priv is rated at having better battery life than the Moto X Pure IN THIS VERY ARTICLE, also makes your comments suspect. I've proven your statements wrong multiple times in my response, even using information garnered from this site review. So, you either have some type of reading comprehension disorder, or you're trolling and spreading FUD. The only delusions I see are the ones you're having about the Priv. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Carry on.

165. JMcNulty

Posts: 11; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

Holy crap dude. If you're not being paid by blackberry you're putting way too much effort into being their whiteknight. I only hope we're getting you exclusively here on PA and you're not also whiteknighting on other places at the same time. Try to leave some emotions at the door so you don't sound like such a fanatic.

166. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

"Holy jock riders, Batman!" Why is it that when someone posts something logical, in a calm and professional manner to counter someone's post, some nut comes along and thinks it's something other than what it is? Are YOU being paid to make this comment? Did my post somehow molest you in any type of way? Because you seem to be the one getting emotional about a response I made to someone else. Or are you just feeling left out?

171. JMcNulty

Posts: 11; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

Because you've made a couple dozen comments mostly saying the same thing very defensively. I'm probably not the only person here who was interested in the priv but neutral. I might have conisdered it as a replacement phone, not something to fill a hole inside me. From that neutral perspective you're posts make it sounds like someones insulting your mother. Exhibit A) Your second paragraph.

173. meanestgenius

Posts: 23170; Member since: May 28, 2014

I haven't made a "defensive" posts at all. I have made posts that logically countered claims here in this comments section. And I'll be honest, I really don't care how you view my posts, as you're coming off like I just spit in your drink or something. Exhibit A and Exhibit B: Both of your responses to me.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Priv
  • Display 5.4 inches
    2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 18 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 3GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3410 mAh
  • OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow

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